Feast of the Dormition of the Holy Theotokos

Dormition_2Now we find ourselves in the second week of the Fast commemorating the Feast of the Dormition of the Holy Theotokos. You, like me, may ask yourselves why fast for this event? Why two weeks? 

In "The Word" June 2008 edition, Daniel Manzuk answered these questions.

The text:

"There is a perception that we should fast when we want something, as
though the act of fasting somehow appeases God, and seeing us “suffer”
gets Him to grant our request. Nothing can be further from the truth. It
is not our fasting that pleases God, it is the fruits of our fast
(provided we fast in the proper mind set, and do not merely diet) that
please Him. We fast, not to get what we want, but to prepare ourselves
to receive what God wants to give us. The purpose of fasting is to bring
us more in line with another Mary, the sister of Lazarus, and away from
their sister Martha, who in the famous passage was “anxious and
troubled about many things.” Fasting is intended to bring us to the
realization of “the one thing needful.” It is to help us put God first
and our own desires second, if not last. As such it serves to prepare us
to be instruments of God’s will, as with Moses in his flight from Egypt
and on Mt. Sinai, as well as our Lord’s fast in the wilderness. Fasting
turns us away from ourselves and toward God. In essence it helps us
become like the Theotokos, an obedient servant of God, who heard His
word and kept it better than anyone else has or could."

"So why do we fast before Dormition? In a close-knit family, word that
its matriarch is on her deathbed brings normal life to a halt. Otherwise
important things (parties, TV, luxuries, personal desires) become
unimportant; life comes to revolve around the dying matriarch. It is the
same with the Orthodox family; word that our matriarch is on her
deathbed, could not (or at least should not) have any different effect
than the one just mentioned. The Church, through the Paraklesis Service,
gives us the opportunity to come to that deathbed and eulogize and
entreat the woman who bore God, the vessel of our salvation and our
chief advocate at His divine throne. And as, in the earthly family,
daily routines and the indulgence in personal wants should come to a
halt. Fasting, in its full sense (abstaining from food and desires)
accomplishes this. Less time in leisure or other pursuits leaves more
time for prayer and reflection on she who gave us Christ, and became the
first and greatest Christian. In reflecting on her and her incomparable
life, we see a model Christian life, embodying Christ’s retort to the
woman who stated that Mary was blessed because she bore Him: blessed
rather are those who hear His word and keep it. Mary did this better
than anyone. As Fr. Thomas Hopko has stated, she heard the word of God
and kept it so well, that she of all women in history was chosen not
only to hear His Word but give birth to it (Him). So while we fast in
contemplation of her life, we are simultaneously preparing ourselves to
live a life in imitation of her. That is the purpose of the Dormition

Maybe you were also wondering (like me) what is represented in Jesus holding a small swaddled child in his hands. An explanation I found here at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America:


 "Christ is standing in the center looking at His mother. He is holding a small child clothed in white representing the soul of the virgin Mary."

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